Currently, Wikipedia states some examples of borrowed chords in major keys that are shown below: enter image description here The thing is, the vii°7, IV♭7, and the V♭9 look too worrisome to me. Although I definitely agree with ii°, iiø7, ♭III, iv, ♭VI, and iv♭7. Another issue is that the borrowed tonic chord is not shown.

Based on my theory and how I have learned from my instructor, one key will have at least seven borrowed chords built on all seven scale degrees. In major keys, the borrowed chords will be derived from the natural minor scale, which means they must be diatonic to the parallel natural minor. In the key of C-major, the minimum number of seven chords will appear as below:

  1. Cm (C: i)
  2. Ddim (C: ii°)
  3. E♭ (C: ♭III)
  4. Fm (C: iv)
  5. Gm (C: v)
  6. A♭ (C: ♭VI)
  7. B♭ (C: ♭VII)

Other types of chords can be borrowed (seventh for example), as long as they are diatonic to the parallel natural minor.

Wikipedia also currently states over a borrowed chord in minor keys that are derived from the parallel major:

enter image description here

The question here is, is there only one borrowed chord in minor keys? I know that the Picardy third is the borrowed tonic that appears at the final cadence of a piece.

I've been instructed that there are at least seven, which is the same for major keys. Since there is only one major scale, we get the following in the key of a-minor, as borrowed chords have to be diatonic to the parallel key:

  1. A (a: I)
  2. Bm (a: ii) (Also diatonic to the melodic minor)
  3. C♯m (a: ♯iii)
  4. D (a: IV) (Also diatonic to the melodic minor)
  5. E (a: V) (Also diatonic to the harmonic and melodic minors)
  6. F♯m (a: ♯vi)
  7. G♯dim (a: vii°) (Also diatonic to the harmonic and melodic minors)

Now, the question is, is the Wiki more accurate, or am I? Wikipedia sometimes tells false things as people can edit. If I am actually true, then I will edit the Wiki to my definition.

closed as unclear what you're asking by David Bowling, Tim, Richard, Dom Feb 17 at 18:37

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    Note that Wikipedia says "A common borrowed chord from a parallel major key..." not "The only borrowed chord from a parallel major key..." – Richard Feb 15 at 3:48
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    If you are unsure about this topic, why would you plan to end the Wikipedia page? – Michael Curtis Feb 20 at 20:20

There isn't any central authority able to define musical terms such that their meanings are beyond discussion and debate - or to tell one person that they're right and another is wrong. Of course there's broad agreement on what many terms mean, but not all. Even the meaning of the term 'chord' isn't agreed on by everyone!

As per David's comment above, I've never before heard anyone insist that chords seen as borrowed into a major key must be diatonic to the natural minor. If I did, firstly I would ask them: why is that a useful definition? The concept of chord borrowing / modal interchange is useful to give us a perspective - a way to think about non-diatonic chords. Restricting the definition of chord borrowing such that it can only be from a subset of parallel scales/keys seems to suggest that it's not possible to conceive of the idea of using a chord from (say) the parallel Harmonic Minor, or the parallel Dorian for that matter.

The second thing I might ask is what specifically is so magical about the natural minor scale that it can be the only source for chord borrowing into a major key? I don't think there is anything, other than the popularity of minor tonality - but then of course that isn't restricted to the natural minor.

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    In fact, the percentage of pieces which use exclusively the natural minor notes must be very small, compared with those in minor keys which use other notes, often as well rather than instead of. +1 – Tim Feb 15 at 9:34
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    @MaikaSakuranomiya presumably those textbooks will also have spoken about modal interchange, which is the more formal term (and I would say one that even more clearly relates to interchange between any mode). Did your books suggest that chord borrowing is a special case of modal interchange? If so, what reasons did they give for treating it as a special case? – topo morto Feb 25 at 8:58
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    "Borrowed Chord" "변성화음" - "Modal Interchange" "모달 인터체인지" Do you speak Korean? – Maika Sakuranomiya Mar 2 at 9:11
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    @MaikaSakuranomiya I'm from the UK. I lived in 구리시 for a couple of years doing the English teaching thing. – topo morto Mar 2 at 9:42
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    @MaikaSakuranomiya going back to the question, it could just be that 변성화음 has come to have a slightly different and more specific meaning in Korean than 'borrowed chord' does in English. I know that English cider is a very different thing from Korean 사이다! – topo morto Mar 2 at 9:56

I think the problem stems from the confusion between key and scale.

There are major keys and minor keys. The parallel of C major is C minor. Very straightforward and clear.

However, notes commonly used in major keys are diatonic, and generally consist of seven different ones - each having its own letter name, with or without sharps or flats, as dictated by the key signature.

Minor keys however, use some different notes, due to the changes made many years ago to smooth things out - hence harmonic and melodic. I don't subscribe to the 'only natural minor notes'. Thus when the raised 6th and 7th notes are added to the natural minor notes, obviously other chord options are available. And rightly so: a key and a scale, in minor, are not synonymous. I believe the question is asked with a false premise in mind.

  • I've driven through three music theory textbooks, and all of them included my definition of borrowed chords. – Maika Sakuranomiya Feb 25 at 5:32

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